The Strategic Outlook for 2024: A Blueprint for Accounting Firms
As we embark on 2024, many accounting firms are re-evaluating their strategy to incorporate key initiatives that will attract top talent, grow their advisory services, leverage new technologies, and enhance the online visibility of their experts and for the firm itself. It’s an opportune time for accounting firms to redefine their brands and take the lead in reshaping the industry’s reputation—redefining what it means to have a rewarding and satisfying career in accounting.
For more than a decade now, the AAM Marketing Budget Benchmarking Study has provided valuable insights that help accounting marketers and executive leadership teams craft high-performing marketing programs. As you assess your strategy for 2024, examining what sets the fastest-growing and most profitable firms apart from their slower-growing counterparts can guide you in modeling your strategy, tools, and techniques after those being successfully implemented by the leading firms in the accounting industry.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the top strategies that can propel individuals, practices, or entire firms to new levels of growth and profitability.
1. TALENT: Attraction, Retention, and Expansion
In the contest to attract top talent, firms must look beyond the traditional recruitment strategies they’ve relied on in the past. One opportunity is to increase collaboration between HR and marketing departments in order to showcase not just the job but the broader vision of the firm. The degree to which the firm’s DNA is expressed and communicated across these two functions can be a measure of a firm’s level of commitment and reputation as an employer.
Culture and DEIA Initiatives
A strong firm culture is a magnet for talent. Research indicates that transparency and a commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) initiatives rank among the top factors that resonate with the modern workforce. Prospective employees are actively seeking a workplace that aligns with their values. Strive to comprehend and define what truly resonates with both your current and your future employees.
Retention and Service Expansion
Retaining talent is as crucial as attracting it. Firms should invest in training, up-skilling, and re-skilling programs, making sure employees have the latest technical know-how and soft skills to handle an expanding range of services. Similarly, custom training programs can enable firms to tap into global talent pools and develop low-cost, high-talent offshore workforces.
2. ADVISORY: Beyond Billable Hours to Value-Based Services
Supporting the Growth of Advisory Services
In times of uncertainty, clients are seeking more from the relationships they’ve come to rely on—working with a trusted advisor to help navigate complex business challenges. Firms that recognize this opportunity and adapt to changing client expectations will be better positioned to deliver the highly valuable advisory services clients need in a fast-evolving modern marketplace.
Firms looking to expand advisory services or grow through mergers and acquisitions can often become unbalanced in terms of marketing support. Individual practices and service lines present their own unique set of requirements and demands, which can strain marketing resources and compromise their ability to support a growing number of stakeholders within the firm. Expanding both internal marketing staff and outsourced marketing expertise provides a hybrid structure that bridges skill gaps and makes it far easier to achieve a firm’s growth goals.
3. TECHNOLOGY: Harnessing Tools and Building In-House Skills
Embracing Technological Advancements
In today’s digital-first marketing environment, embracing technology is non-negotiable. Marketing automation tools, new social media opportunities, and generative AI offer avenues to increase a firm’s visibility and grow. Firms should adopt and adapt to stay ahead, ensuring they remain relevant and a leader of innovation for their clients.
Measuring Digital Maturity and Growing In-House Marketing Skills
Strategic planning requires a robust set of insights from metrics, analytics, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Firms should not only leverage external tools but also focus on growing in-house marketing skills. The ability to interpret and act on data is a powerful asset in today’s data-driven environment.
4. ONLINE VISIBILITY: The Power of Content
Engaging Your Firm’s Visible Experts
Increasing visibility on digital channels such as search engines and social media has become more challenging. LinkedIn for example has continued to update its algorithm to prefer posts that keep people on the platform over those that link back to your site. Similarly, Google’s “Helpful Content Update” has reorganized search engine results pages (SERPs), providing users with more information on the SERP and making them less likely to click through to your website.
One adjustment many marketing teams are making is to train their firm’s experts to participate more in visibility-building activities on these digital platforms. At a strategic level, it is critical for all employees to actively promote the brand. Increasing engagement on LinkedIn, crafting more original content, and being more active in community events are just some ways individual experts can contribute to marketing and business development efforts.
The 3Ps: Produce, Publish, Promote
Maintaining a robust online presence hinges on the consistent execution of the 3Ps: “Produce, Publish, Promote.” First, firms should produce content in a variety of formats—written, video, audio—to cater to varied audience preferences. Second, publish fresh content regularly so that clients and prospects start to look forward to your insights Third, promote your content via social media, email, and other channels to make it accessible to the broadest possible audience
Conclusion: Architects of Change in the Accounting Industry
As they venture into the new year, accounting firms stand at a crossroads. They have the opportunity to become architects of change, reshaping the profession and guiding it toward a future of revitalized growth. By strategically focusing on talent attraction and retention, embracing advisory services, leveraging technology, and mastering online visibility, firms can position themselves as leaders in the evolving accounting landscape. Mastering these strategies not only adapts your firm to changing times; it positions you at the forefront of a movement that is redefining the accounting profession.
To learn more, check out the AAM Marketing Budget Benchmarking Study, one of the most powerful tools accounting marketing and business development teams can use to guide their firms’ strategic initiatives and growth goals.
About Will Casserly
Will Casserly is an Account Director at Hinge Marketing where he works closely with accounting and financial services firms of all sizes to achieve their strategic, brand visibility and growth objectives.
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